With all of the publicity surrounding Toyota’s internal debate over whether or not to recall its Prius hybrid due to a potential braking defect, this one almost slipped through the cracks: Ford has ordered its dealers to correct a very similar issue in its 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid and its cousin, the 2010 Mercury Milan Hybrid.
Unlike the Prius, the Fusion and Milan hybrids don’t actually lose braking power while the driver is stepping on the brake pedal – but it can feel as though they do. The cars have two separate braking systems – a regenerative system that gently slows the car by reversing the spin of its electric motor, which also recharges its batteries, and conventional brakes at the wheels. The brake pedal operates these systems electronically, but if something interferes with the electronics, it presses the conventional brakes mechanically instead. When that happens, the brake pedal can feel different – leading some drivers to think the brakes aren’t working properly.
Consumer Reports managed to replicate the conditions that cause the problem. When the glitch showed up, they report, “The pedal travel was long and the pedal felt mushy underfoot, but when the pedal was pushed firmly down, the brakes did stop the car effectively.”
Kicking Tires notes, “Only one other instance was reported on the government’s Safercar.gov website. No injuries have been reported because of the problem”
Ford says it has a software fix that can correct the problem. The company’s approach is not a formal recall, but instead, what the auto industry calls a “Technical Service Bulletin.” Autoblog explains, “Ford has initiated a repair program and will notify all known owners by mail starting in early February 2010. Anyone who owns a Fusion or Milan Hybrid made on or before October 17, 2009 can see their dealer regarding Ford's "Customer Satisfaction Program 10B13.”